Last night The Honey Partnership won the ICCO award for Best Independent Consultancy. It’s the icing on the cake for a rocket-fuelled year of business wins, office openings and awards, which are a testimony to our start-up mentality, agile approach and commitment to the Chinese Way.

This year we’ve picked up a bunch of gongs – Best New Consultancy, Fastest Growing, Best Large Agency and our very own Ella Roche was hailed the industry’s 2017 Rising Star. Our work has been recognised with a Cannes Lions, an Effie, plus prizes at Eurobest and One Show.

Last month Honey was shortlisted in the PRCA National Awards for Best International Agency – up against two industry heavyweights. We didn’t win, but to be recognised alongside them was equally as awesome.

What’s our secret? We are a China-inspired social creative agency. Why social creative? Social because it’s a behaviour, not a platform or technology. Creative because that is what clients want – they want us to imagine the future to deliver their goals.

We also believe that China is an opportunity, not just in terms of helping Chinese businesses grow and globalise, but in the way that Chinese companies are structured and how they work.

China inspires us because it’s a global leader in social communications, some of the most exciting technology is conceived in Shenzhen. Growth is driven by entrepreneurs and investment unhindered by borders or outdated practices. To do business the Chinese way, learning the language is only the price of admission, so we have put Chinese business culture at our operational heart.

There are three pillars of Honey’s Chinese Way, they were crystallized by our chairman, Mark Adams, and are baked into our DNA through Honey’s Staff Handbook and Code of Professional Conduct.

Essentially, it all starts and ends with sales numbers.

Our clients ask what will sell products and what will generate sales. If any activity does not generate a measureable sales uplift, then it is canned. We will also identify leading indicators of sales performance, such as web visits, search results, downloads and signups. We call this focus on the numbers Ji Xiao (绩效).
Everything we do is tasked, and we use Asana as our primary task-management platform. We quantify everything as a task, assigned to an owner with a deadline. And we have to deliver. Everything is documented, live and transparent. The client has shared access to our platform and engages with us in the details of our tasks. We call this task focus Xing Dong (行动).

And finally, speed really counts. Chinese companies assess and evaluate with rigour, but when they decide, they commit. Comms is real-time IM using WeChat or Slack. We don’t use email. One Chinese client EMEA VP famously said to us: “Why would I call anyone on the phone when I typically save more than 60 seconds by WeChatting them?”. The clients are always on, and so are we. We call this Su Du (速度).

Mark Adams summarised the benefits of our approach as: “In many ways, the Chinese Way may well be superior to the best communications practices in the West. In any event, it’s worth knowing and understanding because The Chinese Way helps us to find ways to improve our current practices – we have a philosophy of continuous improvement.”

Honey has got its sting on, punches above its weight and always encourages clients to: “do something worth talking about”. That’s the driving force our team has taken to heart and asks itself everyday.

Congratulations to all the team at Honey in London, Amsterdam, Melbourne and San Francisco, you’ve earnt your laurels – the Chinese Way.

Mark Terry-Lush
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